Southern State Correctional Facility

Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Two of the three Vermont prison inmates involved in what officials called a “unit takeover” pleaded guilty to assault charges in connection with the November incident.

Arthur Crandall, 43, and Logan Wheeler, 32, entered their pleas Tuesday, according to Windsor County court documents.

A third inmate, Dakota Gardner, 29, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and assault on an officer. Gardner attacked 53-year-old corrections officer George Neathawk with several improvised weapons around the same time the inmate was assaulted, according to officials.

According to Mike Touchette, commissioner of the Department of Corrections, the incident occurred at approximately 10:15 a.m. on Nov. 19 in the Southern State Correctional Facility’s India Unit.

When other correctional officers responded, one used pepper spray against an inmate attacking him before moving on to pepper spray of the three other inmates. Other inmates were locked in their cells while the ones involved in the incident were subdued.

Half an hour later, two inmates in that same unit barricaded themselves in their cell. The Southern State Correctional Facility special response team was sent in while the special response team at the Rutland jail was put on standby. The Southern State Correctional Facility’s special response team attempted to resolve the situation with the barricaded inmates, but ultimately used a “handheld diversionary device” to resolve the matter.

“The response today from all officers involved was swift and professional, bringing a dangerous and escalating situation quickly under control,” wrote Touchette on the day of the incident.

The guard was taken to a hospital and later released.

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